THERE is need for the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) to engage industry in order to raise awareness on the various statutory instruments regulating effluent discharge and sustainable environmental management, stakeholders have said.
A Cabinet committee recently laid the blame on municipalities, food, chemical and other industries for discharging harmful waste substances into the environment.
However, delegates at a Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI)/EMA workshop held in the capital yesterday concurred on the need for dialogue and engagement with regard to environmental management, as the challenges were more complex than they appear at face value.
The pervading economic challenges and capital expenditure requirements have left companies unable to comply with specific environmental regulations which had been set for June 30.
Chairman of CZI’s infrastructure committee Tafadzwa Choto said it would be important for industry to work closely with EMA to seek a win-win solution for all.
“There is a need to strike a balance between the need for development and environmental management, as long as both sides are willing to look at it that way there will be traction,” said Choto.
The workshop comes at a time when EMA in conjunction with other law enforcement agents are clamping down on industries and companies deemed to non-compliant by inspectors.
Stakeholders in the chemical, tyre, cool drink and battery manufacturing industries among others were in attendance.
A stakeholder from Sable Chemicals said there was need for clarity on incentives attached to the various categories of EMA licences.
“There is a widely held perception that EMA has a policy of punishing big industries with capacity to pay while small companies are left scot-free,” he said.
However, EMA director for Environmental Services Aaron Chigona said the agency was mandated with implementing an act of Parliament and failure to do so would land the authorities at the agency in trouble.
“Dialogue has been lacking, there is a need to work more professionally. EMA is working in conjunction with the police and municipality to enforce environmental compliance, but in my own personal opinion, it is not the best way to enforce compliance. I have received so many complaints,” said Chigona.
He suggested to CZI members to come up with a working committee that works with EMA for the good of industry.
“We need to talk to the director responsible for enforcement it’s worth looking at and ensuring the image of the organisation is not negatively portrayed,” said Chigono.
“Where the environment is at risk, any other law becomes minor, for instance discharging effluent into the Municipality sewer is an offence.”
One stakeholder involved in battery manufacture said the statutory instrument standards are generic and they should be specific in terms of effluent discharge.
“With regard to solid waste management in some countries it is a resource for brick-making, or material for road paving among other uses, but in Zimbabwe it is classified as hazardous,” he said.